(BEDFORD) – During Thursday’s school board meeting many requested the school board to take a time out on the proposed consolidation of the elementary schools.
Residents from Fayetteville and Heltonville continue to plea for the school board to slow down the process of the consolidation plan.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Mungle presented the facts in regards to Plan 3 and recommended the board consider it for future consideration.
Kayla Ikerd, Trisha Turner, Jon Roodschild, Teresa Wade, Sharon King, Greg West, and Logan Felts all spoke during last night’s school board meeting.
Most of the evening’s comments were similar to what was previously addressed to the school board with Jon Roodschild stating, “Take time out, do not move so quickly. It is too extreme and unnecessary. “
He used comments from former Superintendent Gary Conner back in 2017, stating, “There may need to be school closings. But, not the extreme measures of closing 5 to 6 elementary schools, and 2 or 3 middle schools.” Roodschild stated to the board. Roodschild stated transparency and communication are very important.
Teresa Wade of Williams, offered other alternatives and considerations for the board, including budget cuts prior to closing schools.
“Let’s not do a hatchet job, and hatchet off all these county schools,” Wade stated. “ In Indiana, there is a motto ‘No Child Left Behind’ you are leaving Fayetteville children behind.”
Wade stated the hiring of administrative staff was money lost to instructional staff and the students. “This clearly shows the children are not a priority, then again ‘No Child Left Behind’. The job of the school corporation is to educate our children, to be productive members of society. Your job is not to recruit for the NBA or NFL for a minute percentage of the entire student percentage,” Wade added.
Kayla Ikerd pleaded for alternative plans pointing out many may be negatively impacted by the consolidation. She suggested that the school board needs to start tightening up their budget. Ikerd also challenging the school board on their fiscal responsibility on spending this year. She pointed out several expenditures of the school corporation that were unnecessary just this year. Ikerd asked how does Plans 2 and 3 make the school corporation solvent?
“Can anyone provide the data in writing, on the savings, what does the five-year plan look like under Plan 2 and Plan 3. Where are we headed? If you are like me you would want to see all the information, data, facts and figures, and the public wants to know,” she added.
Sharon King pleaded that school board officials should consider the children that do better in smaller classrooms. “Not all children fit into a box,” she added. King pointed out children need stability, and the consolidation may not be in the best interest of some children.
Doug Jones of Heltonville, brought more signatures in a petition trying to keep the Fayetteville, Heltonville, Needmore, and Springville schools open. Over 980 signatures have been collected so far in trying to keep the rural schools open.
Below is a look at what Plan 3 looks like, you can go to the NLCS website and access all the data in regards to the proposals as well as information used in the process to come up with the Visionary Committee Recommendations.
When these schools close, Dr. Mungle is not recommending in repurposing the buildings. However, if the county, state, federal or private sector is interested in them it could be a benefit. He stated he does not see the school corporation owning those buildings in the future. The only building that he recommended for re-purposing was the Stalker Elementary which will be used as an Early Learning Center.
” I do not want to pass up the possibilities, but we need to look at getting rid of those facilities,” Mungle stated.
Dr. Mungle is being challenged by many in the community because he was not from here that the closing of schools does not matter to him. Dr. Mungle reassured the attendees that he loves Lawrence County and is very passionate about the community.
“I moved to Lawrence County when I was in seventh grade. I didn’t want to move. I love Lawrence County. I went back to college where my grandparents lived in Missouri. As soon as I graduated, I came back and started teaching here. But, when I was 15 years old, I spent a lot of time here in Lawrence County. My step-father loves Lawrence County, we spent every weekend here, his ancestors homesteaded here. I take great pride that my step-grandfather was a county school superintendent. We have a scholarship in Luther and Emma Ferguson’s name, Springville Feeder Auction started on the family farm. We love Lawrence County. I am passionate about it, and I loved being a teacher at Heltonville with those 14 students. Not that I did not like Needmore or Stalker but it made me feel good. I am passionate about Lawrence County, was not born here. I love Lawrence County,” Dr. Mungle concluded.
On Saturday, December 7th, the North Lawrence School Board will have an open public session on the consolidation and visionary recommendations. This will take place at 4 p.m. at the North Lawrence Administration building.